14 July 2004

Saab plans to muscle into the high-performance saloon market with an all-wheel-drive 300bhp version of the 9-3 that will gun for the Audi S4. The company has been testing its own four-wheel-drive system for the past two years, and insiders say the car should be ready by 2007.

Power is likely to come from a version of next year’s new V6 engine, tuned from the standard 250bhp to 300bhp. Saab is likely to share technology from partners within the GM empire, and the forthcoming Vectra VXR is the most obvious candidate.

Torquesteer has plagued high-power Saabs in recent years, as power levels stretched the limits of front-wheel-drive chassis. The worst moment came with the 9-3 Viggen (right) in 1999, which comprehensively failed to put down its 225bhp with any degree of composure. Saab has throttled back on high-power front-drivers in recent years; the most powerful 9-3 now on sale is the 210bhp 2.0 turbo Aero.

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